T ransgender A merican
V eterans A ssociation

Several years ago I visited the Wall but it didn't have the impact that it did on May 1, 2004.  I can't put into words what, how, or why this trip had such a humbling impact on me this time.  Perhaps it was because I was there in my BDU and VVA beret which made me feel that I was more of a part of the Vietnam War than I ever imagined.  That indeed I was there and did lose so many of my brothers and sisters than I had realized.  That this time it finally touched me in a way I never felt before.  The realization that some of those who gave their lives were transgendered but never had a chance to live in their true identity.  I felt very proud to be in their presence while in uniform.  To touch them in a way that cannot be explained but only felt.

These same feelings were still present during the wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb Of The Unknown.  I have never felt the amount of pride that I did when the Sergeant of the Guard bellowed out "Present Arms" I stood at attention and rendered a hand salute until commanded to "Order Arms", all the while trying unsuccessfully to hold back the tears.  Seeing that wreath with the TAVA acronym placed in front of the tomb caused a tidal wave of emotions within me.

I cannot give enough praise to Angela Brightfeather for this event and all the work she did to make it a reality.  Angela dear, Bravo Zulu on a job well done.

I feel so proud to be a member of TAVA and to have been a part of this history making event.

With deepest love,
Darlene Patricia Strauch
DS1         USN (Retired)

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